Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Here We Go Again

After what seems like a very long mid-winter break, the KCC Coventry League team was back in action last night, as the KO Cup competition started. Once again failing to get one of the numerous byes, we had a first round encounter with Division 3 side, Nuneaton C. This meant a 2.25 points handicap start for our opponents, which left us needing at least a 3.5-0.5 win for us to go through to the Quarter Final.

Its been a long time since I had to make the trip over to Nuneaton, and I can pretty confidently report that it has got even further away from Kenilworth in the last two years. Nevertheless, the old homing instinct kicked in and destination was duly reached without any need for the satnav.

As is to be expected in these circumstances, we massively outgraded our opponents, with a minimum rating gap of 540 points, but as we know from previous experience, the risk of slipping on a banana skin makes these tense encounters, where there is nothing to gain but lots to lose. This time round, I'm pleased to say, we were never in any danger of failing to go through - though there is always that nagging doubt that you are one blunder away from blowing the match.

Ben, who I remember having a torrid time before eventually winning in a similar match in Rugby a few years ago, was this time the first to finish. I only managed one glimpse at his game against Terry Clay and he had won a couple of pawns and had the White king in his sights. It finished very soon after so I assume something major occurred!

We chalked up another Black win when I got the full point against Bernard Visgandis on Board 2. I won a pawn early on, but then - shades of Morecambe and Wise - played the right moves in the wrong order, which should have given back the pawn. Missing this chance, Bernard went wrong and allowed me to win material shortly after, before resigning when a rook down.


Andrew made it 3-0 with a nice finish against Stuart Simpson on Board 1. He'd won a piece very early on for a pawn (or two?) but then produced a nice queen sac combination to deliver mate with two rooks on the back rank.

The match was then closed out by Mike after an interesting game against Jiri Stepan on Board 3. Mike had a slow build up, but after first shattering the Black kingside pawns he was then able to navigate the complications to win lots of material thanks to a killing bishop check on the long diagonal against the Black king which was trapped on h8.

So that was us safely through to the Quarter Final, where we have another away tie against either Coventry B (Div 2) or Coventry F (Div 3). Another battle against the Handicap awaits!

Friday, 7 January 2022

KCC Road Trips - Number 4 - From the Land of 10,000 Lakes to America's Dairyland

Get your motor running, it's time to head out on the highway on the fourth of our KCC road trips, and this time we find ourselves taking some of the less trodden roads from Minnesota (the land of 10,000 lakes) to Wisconsin (America's Dairyland).



We start, fittingly, in the town named after KCC's most eminent literary figure, the best selling author that is Ben Graff. Well, I say "town", but that seems to be a bit of an over-statement, as it is an unincorporated community within Moose Lake Township, and Google Street View shows it to be rather sparsely populated. To say the least! If I were Ben, I'd think I warranted a rather more substantial namesake. One at least on a par with the 237 population Rogers, Ohio! (See Road Trip Number 3). The only claim to fame I can come up with is that it's "only" 124 miles from Hibbing, Minnesota, the childhood home town of the one and only Bob Dylan. Shame Ben's not called Hibbing, as then I would at least have had something interesting to write about!  But its still reason enough for a video of the great man.



A 127 mile/2 hr 15 mins drive from Graff brings us to the metropolis of Donnelly. Not that we are exactly in the big time here, either, but at least it has a population of 234 and since 1965 it has been the venue each August for the Donnelly Threshing Bee. Which looks as though it is rather more interesting than the Kenilworth Lions Show in Abbey Fields! Who doesn't like tractor pulling?

We could almost walk to our next stop in Morris, because its only 8 miles away. A bit like Noah and Patrick in the last instalment, its rather greedy of Will to put in another appearance, as he has already featured in our second Road Trip. The Minnesota version has an impressive population of 5,286, and is home to UMM - the University of Minnesota Morris, which may not be as famous as Harvard or Yale, but does rank in the Top 10 of Forbes' America's Top Colleges. The Wikipedia list of notable people is impressively long, but I've never heard of any of them, so instead I'll just mention the Stevens County Fair, held every August - but obviously not clashing with the Donnelly Threshing Bee!

It's only 43 miles/49 minutes from here to Watson - where we find yet another of our pushier members demanding a second mention in this series. I'm afraid we can only muster a population of 205, so other than telling you that the area code is 320, I really can't find much else to say! So lets head due east, and after 2 hours 20 mins and 124 miles we find ourselves in .... Rogers! What is it with all these KCC chaps demanding multiple mentions in these travelogues, when some of us haven't even managed one appearance?! At least this time, though, we have somewhere more appropriate to the name of the KCC Chairman. Rogers is now home to some 11,200 people, following the annexation of neighbouring Hassan Township in 2012. So when he's not hoovering up accountancy companies, he's annexing whole communities! At 21050 135th Avenue N, you can find the aptly named, from Bernard's perspective, Short or Tall Eatery and Drink Hall. Well, it's 50% aptly named, I suppose! Though I think I would prefer the nearby Clive's Roadhouse, where one wall is covered in classic rock album covers!

It's 196 miles and a 3 hour drive across the state border into Wisconsin to our next port of call in - thank goodness, a new name! - Wood. When the town was established in 1851, a government surveyor reported:- "There is very little good land in this Township. It may be described as second rate!" Sorry, Phil! Don't shoot the messenger. The current population is a mighty (compared to Graff!) 786.



Another 90 miles/1 hour 25 mins sees us arrive in .......... yet another place called ****** Morris! Only 485 souls reside here, and even if I had interesting facts to impart, I wouldn't bother as I'm getting fed up of these repeat attention seekers. But that's moot, anyway, as there is simply nothing for me to write. We are nearing journey's end now, and our next stop after 51 miles/49 mins is ...... yet another place called ****** Seymour!! As a protest I would have just driven right by, but how can you ignore a place (population 3,451) where the number one attraction is The Hamburger Hall of Fame?! Because this is the city where the world's first hamburger was served at the 1885 Seymour Fair by "Hamburger Charlie" Nagreen. Not the most imaginative nickname, but I suppose it does exactly what it says on the tin! Every August (what is it with August in this neck of the woods? Is the area under snow for the other 11??) Seymour holds a Burger Fest, and it was here in 1989, that the world's largest ever hamburger, weighing in at 5,520 pounds, was served. As nobody has ever challenged this record, they content themselves with a Big Burger of only around 190 lbs these days. To me, the most intriguing attraction at Burger Fest is the Ketchup Slide. I'm guessing that you probably shouldn't wear your best suit to this if you plan to give it a go! All this, and Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers, is only 15 miles away as well. What more could you want from life?

We now need to gird our loins for one last time and travel the final 150 miles/2 hrs 30 mins due south to Center (population 3.,163). What, has Page gone mad? We don't have - and never have had - any member called Center, but fear not, I am still in possession of some of my marbles. Center (a nice chess related term in itself) just happens to be the location of the former settlement of Fellows. There was a post office here between 1887 and 1902, but that is seemingly the sum total of its history. OK, OK, I know that it's not quite spelled correctly, but given that the Americans can't spell centre properly, how could you expect them to get Fellowes right?  Give me a bit of leeway, here - coming up with this stuff is not as easy as you probably think. And it seems fitting that the start and end points of our latest road trip should have been places that hardly/don't exist!

And there you have it. A 790 mile journey that has taken us 13 hours 28 minutes, plus stops, visiting 9 locations named after KCC members. Tiring stuff - and there's still a whole lot of the USA to explore. Plus the rest of the world! This series could run and run. Stay tuned for the next exciting instalment.

Monday, 3 January 2022

2021 Christmas Quiz - the Answers!

Time to put you all out of your misery! Here are the answers to the latest KCC Quiz.

1

In which country did Bobby Fischer play his first competitive chess game outside the USA (in 1956)? (1 pt)

Cuba

2

Which American future GM won the 1957 World Junior Championship with a score of 11/11? (The only player ever to score 100% in this event.) (1 pt)

William Lombardy

3

What connection with the chess world do the following have:-

 

a) Stephen Dwyer and Victoria Sheppard

 

 

b) Petronella Hajny

c) Ponchik

d) Paul Nemenyi

 

e) Joan Targ

f) Klara Shagenovna

(6 pts total)

 

 

 

a) Ananda Marga supporters of Korchnoi at the 1978 WC match v Karpov in Baguio City

b) Korchnoi’s second wife

c) Levon Aronian’s dog

d) Bobby Fischer’s biological father

e) Bobby Fischer’s sister

f) Garry Kasparov’s mother

4

Which nation won the men’s Olympiad title 4 times in the 1930s, but has only won it twice since? (1 pt)

USA

5

In the 1970 Match of the Century, who replaced Spassky in the USSR team on Board 1 for the final round? (1 pt)

Leonid Stein

6

Prior to 2021, who was the last person other than Jovanka Houska to be British Women’s Champion? (1 pt)

Akshaya Kalaiyalahan (2015)

7

Which super-GM got attacked by a horde of mosquitoes during an online tournament in 2021? (1 pt)

Ian Nepomniatchi

8

Only 2 women players born in Western Europe currently hold the full Grand Master title. Who are they?

 

And which two other female full GMs are currently registered with West European federations?

 

(4 pts total)

a) Pia Cramling (Sweden)

b) Marie Sebag (France)

 

c) Ketevan Arakhamia Grant (Scotland ex Georgia)

d) Peng Zhaoquin (Netherlands ex China)

9

How many women, both active and inactive, currently hold the full GM title?

(2 pts for the right answer; 1 pt within 5 either way)

39

10

Which British GM undertook a 3 week search for the Giant Octopus off the coast of Bermuda in 1999? (1 pt)

Jim Plaskett

11

Which British Champions (all since 1970) have had the following middle names:-

 

a) Roland

b) Ratcliffe

c) Edwin

d) Wei Liang

(4 pts total)

 

 

 

a) Bill Hartston (1973/75)

b) Brian Eley (1972)

c) Paul Littlewood (1981)

d) David Howell (2009/13/14)

 

12

Which Grand Master, a fellow participant in the tournament, hit Bobby Fischer during an argument at the 1962 Curacao Interzonal? ( 1 pt)

Pal Benko

13

Who was crowned British Champion on the 4 occasions that the event was held in Warwickshire/West Midlands?

 

a) Stratford 1925

b) Leamington 1958

c) Coventry 1970

d) Coventry 2015

(4 pts total)

 

 

 

a) HE Atkins

b) Jonathan Penrose

c) Bob Wade

d) Jonathan Hawkins

14

In which countries were the following players born:-

 

a) Jim Plaskett

b) Hikaru Nakamura

c) Wesley So

d) Vera Menchik

e) Miguel Najdorf

f) Yasser Seirawan

g) Leinier Dominguez

h) Irina Krush

 

i) And in which country was Bobby Fischer’s sister born?

(9 pts total)

 

 

a) Cyprus

b) Japan

c) Philippines

d) Russia

e) Poland

f) Syria

g) Cuba

h) USSR

 

i) USSR (yes, really!)

15

Where comes next in this sequence:-

 

London

Khanty Mansiysk

Moscow

Berlin

(1 pt)

 

 

Yekatarinburg

 

(Locations of last 5 Candidates Tournaments)

16

What was Bobby Fischer’s first ever published chess rating (USCF - 4 digits)?

(2 points if within 20 of the correct answer. 1 point if within 100)

1726 (May 1956)

17

In which major sport was the splendidly named Belgian, Benoni Beheyt, the 1963 World Champion? (1 pt)

Cycling (Men’s professional road race champion)

18

a) In 2021, which Australian Grand Master introduced the Fighting Chess Index, to measure the combative spirit of the world’s top players? (1 pt)

b) Amongst the World’s top 50 (average ELO 2015-2020), which two super-GMs were ranked first and last on the Index? (2 pts)

c) And from the World’s top 100, which two English GMs were ranked in the top 6 for fighting spirit? (2 pts)

d) And when the sample was widened to include everyone averaging over 2400, which England-based GM was one of only three for whom more than 50% of games ended in a short draw (under 30 moves)? And which former FIDE World Champion was also in this group? (2 pts)

e) And who had the highest Fighting Chess Index figure amongst women? (Clue: in the 2021 Gibraltar Women’s GP she had ten successive decisive games before drawing in the last round after 135 moves!) (1 pt)

(Total 8 pts)

David Smerdon

 

 

Vladimir Kramnik (80.1)

Teimour Radjabov (51.2)

 

Gawain Jones (2nd – 83.1)

Luke McShane (6th – 79.7)

Bogdan Lalic (3.7)

Alexander Khalifman (2.4)

 

 

 

Valentina Gunina (93.4)

19

Name the 8 players who appeared at least once when England came second at three consecutive men’s Olympiads in the 1980s (1984/86/88)

 

(8 pts total)

Miles

Nunn

Speelman

Chandler

Mestel

Short

Flear

Watson

(Short, Flear and Watson were IMs at the time of their first/only appearance)

20

To which Grand Masters are the following GMs/WGMs currently married?

 

a) Antoaneta Stefanova

b) Victorija Cmiylte

c) Alina Kashlinskaya

d) Kateryna Lagno

e) Anna Zatonski

f) Alexandra Kosteniuk

g) Jovana Vojinovic

(6 pts total)

 

And name the GM first husbands of:-

g) Victorija Cmiylte

h) Kateryna Lagno

(2 pts total)

 

i) Aside from chess, what do Stefanova and Cmiylte have in common, career-wise?

(1 pt)

 

 

 

Ivan Cheparinov

Peter Heine-Nielsen

Radoslaw Wojtaszek

Alexander Grischuk

Daniel Fridman

Pavel Tregubov

Richard Rapport

 

 

 

Alexei Shirov

Robert Fontaine

 

 

Politics - they are both elected members of their respective National Parliaments

21

A literary/cinematic interlude!

 

a) Who wrote the 1983 novel, “The Queen’s Gambit”, on which the recent Netflix series was based?

b) What was the title of this author’s 1959 novel, later made into a classic Hollywood film starring Paul Newman?

c) What was his 1963 novel, later made into a British film, starring David Bowie?

d) And what was his 1984 novel, a sequel to (b), later made into a Hollywood film starring Paul Newman and Tom Cruise?

e) Which all-time great Hollywood actor drew a 1956 simultaneous game (with Black) against Samuel Reshevsky? Clue – in his most famous/iconic role, he is seen studying a chess position while dressed in a white dinner jacket.

(5 pts total)

 

 

a) Walter Tevis

 

b) The Hustler

 

c) The Man Who Fell to Earth

 

d) The Colour of Money

 

 

e) Humphrey Bogart

22

When Bobby Fischer played his only ever competitive game in the UK in 1960 (a consultation game for a radio programme), what was his fee from the BBC?

(Exact amount required for a point!)

 

And for another point, in which London street, synonymous with high quality in its specialist field, did he spend it?

(2 pts total)

£50

 

 

 

 

Saville Row

23

Jovanka Houska has won 9 British Women’s Championships. But who holds the record with 11? (1 pt)

Rowena Bruce

24

And now one for all you artists out there.

 

a) Which world famous artist played in the 1930 Olympiad

 

 

b) Name the reigning World Champion who played in the same team.

c) And what country were they both representing?
(3 pts total)

 

 

a) Marcel Duchamp (who scored 4/15) (He also played in 1931 - 2.5/9; and 1933 – 2/12)

b) Alexander Alekhine (who scored 9/9!)

c) France

25

And let’s not forget the music fans:-

 

a) On what instrument was Mark Taimanov a virtuoso?

b) Which future World Champion failed an opera singing audition at The Bolshoi Theatre in 1950?

c) Which mega-famous singer-songwriter, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, played in the 1972 American Open in Santa Monica? Hope she looked at the possibilities from both sides before making a move!

d) Which famous rockstar sang old pop, R&B and soul hits all night with Bobby Fischer at the Hotel Borg in Reykjavik in 2005? Clue - sometimes known as the grandmother of punk or the punk poet laureate, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Second clue – her most famous album is named after chess pieces. Well, sort of!

(4 pts total)

 

 

a) Piano

b) Vassily Smyslov

 

c) Joni Mitchell

 

 

 

d) Patti Smith (the album is called “Horses”)

26

Which super-GM, often called the nicest person in chess, shares his name with a model of Nissan pick-up truck? (1 pt)

David Navara

27

Who won the 1994 Lloyd’s Bank Open in London, with a score of 9.5/10, at the age of just 17? (1 pt)

Alexander Morozevich

28

Identify the following famous chess players:-

a) Born The Hague 1927, Died Amsterdam 1988

b) Born Sydney 1949, Died Las Vegas 2015

c) Born Riga 1886, Died Copenhagen 1935

d) Born Prague 1836; Died New York 1900

e) Born Tbilisi 1929; Died Moscow 1984

f) Born Baku 1986; Died Heidelberg 2014

(6 pts total)

 

a) Jan Hein Donner

b) Walter Browne

c) Aron Nimzowitsch

d) Wilhelm Steinitz

e) Tigran Petrosian

f) Vugar Gashimov

29

Which two players jointly hold the record for most appearances (23) in the Soviet Championships?

(2 pts total)

 

Efim Geller & Mark Taimanov

30

What did the following have in common for most of 2021:-

Ian Nepomniatchi

Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid and France footballer)

Orlando Bloom (Hollywood actor)

Gareth Bale (Real Madrid and Wales footballer)

(1 pt)

 

Manbuns!

31

Since 1950, eleven people have held the record as the youngest Grand Master ever.  Name them!

 

Clue:

3 x USSR

2 x Hungary

2 x Ukraine

2 x USA

1 x France

1 x China

 

(11 pts total)

1950 David Bronstein (26y)

1952 Tigran Petrosian (23y)

1955 Boris Spassky (18y)

1958 Bobby Fischer (15y6m1d)

1991 Judit Polgar (15y4m28d)

1994 Peter Leko (14y4m22d)

1997 Etienne Bacrot (14y2m0d)

1997 Ruslan Ponomariov (14y0m17d)

1999 Bu Xiangzhi (13y10m13d)

2002 Sergei Karjakin (12y7m0d)

2021 Abhimanyu Mishra (12y4m25d)

32

The son of which 2 time British Champion (himself more famous for his wartime non-chess achievements!) won a silver medal for fencing at the 1960 Olympics, and also became the UK ambassador to NATO?

(1 pt)

 

Bletchley Park Code Breaker Hugh Alexander – British Champion in 1938 and 1956

33

a) Who beat Garry Kasparov in 7 moves in the Croatia Grand Chess Tour Blitz Tournament in 2021?

b) Who beat Anatoly Karpov in 11 moves at the 1993 Wijk aan Zee tournament?

c) And who beat Vishy Anand in 6 moves at Biel in 1988?

(3 pts total)

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

 

Larry Christiansen

 

Alonso Zapata

34

a) Which hobbling GM, now registered for Germany, almost had his plastered foot trodden on by the KCC Chairman at Radebeul in 2018? Clue: he played in the 1970 USSR v World Match of the Century.

b) And, also at Radebeul in 2018, which 3 time Candidates Semi-Finalist, also now registered with Germany, did the KCC Chairman describe as – and he should know! – “a big unit”.

(2 pts total)

Vlastimil Hort

 

 

Artur Yusupov

35

a) After which legendary GM is the annual FIDE Fairplay Award named?

b) And who won it in 2021 for conceding an online tournament game against Ding Liren to offset an unfortunate disconnect by his opponent in the previous game?

(2 pts total )

a) Svetozar Gligoric

 

b) Magnus Carlsen

36

a) Which of the following has never been World Blitz Champion:-

Levon Aronian; Lenier Dominguez; Hikaru Nakamura; Vassily Ivanchuk? (1 pt)

 

b) And which of the following has never been World Rapid Champion:-

Levon Aronian; Vishy Anand; Shakhriyar Mamedyarov;  Vassily Ivanchuk? (1 pt)

 

 

Hikaru Nakamura

 

 

 

 

Levon Aronian

37

Which famous annual tournament, sponsored by Luis Rentero, was held at the Hotel Anibal.

And who won the 1994 edition with an undefeated 11/13, which was assessed at the time as the best tournament performance ever?

(2 pts total)

Linares (Spain)

 

Anatoly Karpov

38

In which city would you find the John G. White Chess and Checkers Collection – described as “the largest chess library in the world”? (1 pt)

Cleveland, Ohio (USA)

39

Which GM, born 2004, shares a name with the nerve gas used in the Tokyo subway terrorist attack in 1995? (1 pt)

Nihal Sarin

40

Some very easy points on offer here. Name the 14 players who have ever had a published FIDE rating of 2800 or more.

 

Anyone scoring less than 6 as an absolute minimum should not be doing this quiz!

 

(14 pts)

Magnus Carlsen (2882)

Garry Kasparov (2851)

Fabiano Caruana (2844)

Levon Aronian (2830)

Wesley So (2822)

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2820)

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2819)

Viswanathan Anand (2817)

Vladimir Kramnik (2817)

Veselin Topalov (2816)

Ding Liren (2816)

Hikaru Nakamura (2816)

Alexander Grischuk (2810)

Alireza Firouzja (2804)

41

Who is the oldest living Grand Master? Clue; He was a 1 time Champion of the USSR and his daughter married Mark Taimanov. (1 pt)

Yuri Averbakh – age 99 (Born 1922)

42

Which East European GM (1937-2000) lost against Korchnoi at the 1972 Moscow Olympiad after putting his score sheet, with his sealed move, into his pocket, rather than into the adjournment envelope! (1 pt)

Georgi Tringov (Bulgaria)

43

Which West European GM (1925-2006), a legal professional, was described by Anatoly Karpov as “the undisputed World Champion amongst amateurs”? Clue - he played 12 times in Olympiads for his country, 10 of them on top board. (1 pt)

Wolfgang Unzicker (W Germany)

44

Which Yugoslav GM (1944-2008) was the subject of the 2021 book, “Forgotten Genius”? (1 pt)

The brilliant, but tragic, Albin Planinc

45

As at December 9th, who was the only GM registered under the FIDE, as opposed to a national, flag. Clue – it wasn’t Alireza Firouzja! (1 pt)

Vladislav Kovalev (ex Belarus)

46

Prior to Ravi Haria, who were the last three English players to gain the GM title? (3 pts)

Daniel Fernandez (2017)

Jonathan Hawkins (2014)

Stephen Gordon (2009)

47

Four of these names from the December FIDE rating list  are Grand Masters, and four are rated  under 2000. Can you identify the 4 GMs?

 

Batbileg Ganbold

Orest Gritsak

Yue Hu

Vasil Kochev

Samput Mallick

Zbigniew Pakleza

Mishra Swayams

Henry Urday

 

(4 pts)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zbigniew Pakleza (Poland 2489)

Orest Gritsak (Ukraine 2468)

Mishra Swayams (India 2489)

Henry Urday (Peru 2482)

48

Who has been a second for the winning player in no less than 8 world championships (7 matches and 1 tournament)? (1 pt)

GM Peter Heine Nielsen (4 with Anand and 4 with Carlsen)

49

Name the top 5 boards (correct order not required!) for the Rest of the World team in the second “Match of the Century” against the USSR (London, 1984) (5pts)

1 Ulf Andersson

2 Jan Timman

3 Viktor Korchnoi

4 Ljubomir Ljubojevic

5 Zoltan Ribli

50

Who won the 2021 European Blitz Championship, despite losing 28 rating points in the process? (1 pt)

Jan-Krzysztof Duda

 

Total points available

150

I can report one very creditable effort - computer assisted, it goes without saying! - that scored 144/150. And if the solver had remembered the rather elementary fact that the USSR existed till 1991, he would have got 146! I was disappointed to discover that several questions I thought were Google-proof, turned out not to be, but at least the fact that there was no 100% score does at least mean that - unlike in chess itself - humans can still beat computers in quizzes.

You'll all doubtless be pleased to know that I'm already collecting potential questions for 2022's Christmas Quiz. But just remember, there will always be more questions than answers!